Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

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Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Wed Jul 13, 2005 7:03 pm

Yes its got to be done, most people are aware of the recent overload of horror films from Asia. Japan was the instigator of this trend, the success of Ringu and its sequel, prequel and the seemingly endless remakes guaranteed a flood of similar films from almost every Asian country.

Japan has been creating horror films for a very long time, the classic Onibaba, totally different from the current crop still stands out as an exercise in terror, unfortunately Japan is also responsible for some of the worst horror films ever made and well be covering the extremely well done to the terrifyingly awful and everything in-between.

Be prepared for honest comments, if a film is bad, youll know about it, likewise if a film stands head and shoulders above the others, itll receive the praise its due.


Battle Heater: Kotatsu - 1990

Battlefield Baseball - 2003

Dark Tales of Japan - 2005

Dark Water - 2002 review from Arsaib4

Forbidden Siren - 2006 comments by justindeimen

A Frightful School Horror - 2001

Ghost Story of Yotsuya - 1959 comment by A.

Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell - 1968

Hiruko the Goblin - 1990

Infection - 2004

Isola - 2000

Ju-on (The Grudge) - 2003

Junk - 2000

Kwaidan - tbc

Onibaba - 1964

Premonition 2004

Pulse (Kairo) - 2001 comments by arsaib4 - listed here as it is regarded as a horror film.

Ring - 1998

Shikoku - 1999

The Suicide Manual - 2003

Tokyo Psycho - 2004

Uzumaki - 2000

Wild Zero - 2000

Still to come.

Are you scared yet? You should be.............. >:

For other sections of Japanese Journals, please use the links


2. Kurosawa, Ozu & Mizoguchi - The Classics

3. Kitano, Tsukamoto & Miike - The Modern Cult Directors

4. Anime

5. Horror & Ghost Stories

6. Jidaigeki (Chambara)

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Wed Jul 13, 2005 7:12 pm

Ju-on (2003) The Grudge

Directed by Takashi Shimizu

Starring Megumi Okina, Yuya Ozeki

One of the more original and therefore one of the most imitated horror films to come out of Japan and the whole of South East Asia in recent years. The horror (The Grudge) spreads from person to person like a disease but is formed from the emotional residue of the victim(s) of attacks of extreme rage, each person who enters the abode holding The Grudge becomes its victim and so it spreads.

In terms of storyline we are presented with a series of chapters/episodes each bearing the name of the next victim, the timeline jumps all over the place from present to past back to the present and now and again, past and present collide. It is difficult to sort out exactly where you are but often youll hear the same telephone conversation but from different sides of the phone, dont make too much effort trying to place everything in its correct order, by the end of the film all the pieces will have fallen into place.

The ghouls or bearers of The Grudge a young boy named Toshio and his mother were pretty unique though other films have been quick to incorporate bits and pieces of their qualities, the creepy noise and movement of the mother and the cat like Toshio make a collectively terrifying duo, certainly not the sort you would want to bump into in the middle of the night.

Creepy, yes! Scary, certainly at times, the sound can be grotesque and is/was quite unique. Dont go looking too hard for a lot of sense, people at times react in a way that seems at odds with the way the majority of us would, but if they didnt we wouldnt have this film would we.

Ju-on will not please those who like plenty of gore, but it does have enough chills and thrills to satisfy most people.

This was actually the third film to bear the name, the previous two went straight to video, no doubt after the success of this and the US remake(s) they will be released on DVD at some point.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:34 pm

Uzumaki (2000)

Directed by Higuchinsky

Starring Eriko Hatsune, Fhi Fan

A manga adaptation with some really inventive ideas in terms of storyline and visual flair.

Kirie lives in a small town in Japan and relates the story; srange things are at hand! people are acting in the most peculiar way. Kiries boyfriends father is obsessed with spirals and has made a vast collection of every spiral pattern he can find, he spends hours filming snails just to record the spiral shells but thats only the tip of the iceberg because soon bizarre events and violent deaths start occurring. What is the significance of the spiral, why is everyone becoming obsessed with them and who on earth cast the actors?

All the visual originality of Tim Burton and a story full of bizarre Lynch(ian) twists, this film should be a classic but unfortunately it isnt. The soundtrack is at times excellent adding to the heady atmosphere but there are times when it is twee making you feel like youre watching a film for 5 year olds.

The acting, the lead actress is just about passable but the lead actor is so wooden he wouldnt notice if you hammered a nail into him, as for the others, a few are fine but some would embarrass a pantomime with their over the top hammy performances.

Recommended for originality and the visual design, shame about the acting

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 18 Why?

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Sat Jul 16, 2005 7:30 pm

Ringu (1998 ) Ring

Directed by Hideo Nakata

Starring Miki Nakatani, Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada

The success of this film is the reason we have and are being constantly bombarded by hordes of mediocre (at best) horror films from Asian countries for the last few years.

Basically its an urban legend about a mysterious videotape causing those who watch it to die a week later. It doesnt sound too promising but it is in a class of its own and stands head and shoulders above its imitators. Even though Id seen it several times over the last few years I thought Id better refresh myself with it and see how I felt after seeing so many other Asian horror films and Im glad I did.

Everything must have been perfect when Nakata made this, the story although sounding quite ordinary takes some well-timed twists and turns and is very well conceived. The editing is excellent, the actors are terrific and the mood is one of mounting tension and dread.

What starts off as a typical teens dying in disturbing ways becomes far more crucial when its twisted onto a single mother and then even worse onto her only child, a brilliant way to put fear into all the mothers in the audience. Nothing is given away until right toward the end, like Alien and Jaws before it, youll catch glimpses but the true horror is left lurking till the last moment and despite (or maybe because of) the low tech and low budget it works!

If you only see one modern Asian horror film, Ring should be the one.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Wed Jul 20, 2005 11:22 pm

Kaidan aka Kwaidan (1964) Ghost Story

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi

As this is made up of four episodes, Ill list the main actors and comment on each separately.

Black Hair.

Starring Rentaro Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama

An outside view of a gray building, weather beaten and generally worse for wear, a slow rhythmic beat starts up as a narrator tells us how the husband who is a Samurai is leaving his wife and home to find a better position. He casts his wife aside and tells her in no uncertain terms that she is to blame for their poor state in life.

The Samurai remarries, not for love but to attain power and position, his new wife is selfish, pompous and callous, she never fails to remind him how beneficial it was to him that they married, eventually after sending her back to her family and fulfilling his obligations he decides to return to his first wife whom he regrets leaving.

Back at his old home everything looks exactly the same, his wife is there as beautiful and loving as ever but something isn't right.............!

A moralistic tale, in life you should get your priorities right, there are things more important than money, power and status, also it is seldom true that "the grass is greener on the other side".

Snow Woman.
Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiko Kishi

Father and son (Nokichi) take shelter from a blizzard only for the father to fall foul of a yukionna (Snow ghost or demon) she sucks the life out of him but spares the son making him vow never to tell anyone, the cost of breaking the promise; his life!

A long time later Nokichi meets and marries a beautiful woman, life is happy for the couple and they have several children, but one day as he looks at his wife he is reminded of the events of that night, she asks what's wrong and without thinking he tells her the whole story!

Absolutely stunning artistically, reminiscent of the surreal work of Dali or Kurosawas Dreams, this whole section is done using sets which adds to the theatricality of it and allows for the amazing visuals, again the sound also plays an important part, eerie and creepy, slow and melancholy.

Hoichi the Earless.

Starring Katsuo Nakamura, Takashi Shimura

The longest and most vivid episode,

To be continued. Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:07 am

Dark Water (2002) [Take One]

Directed by Japanese horror master Hideo Nakata, Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara Ive no idea why the Japanese title is so long thus supporting Bill Murrays wonderment of the language in Lost in Translation), pretty much falls in line with Nakatas previous films, namely Ringu (199 and Ringu 2 (1999). (He also directed The Ring Two (2005) and wrote the English language remake of Dark Water called Dark Water but lets not confuse matters.) Stories involving mothers and their prepubertal daughters have become a trademark of East-Asian horror, and this is no different; although, in an attempt to elevate the material, Nakata has tried to incorporate some social commentary. Yoshimi Matsubara (Kuroki Hitomi) has recently gotten a divorce from her husband (Fumiyo Kohinata) but shes still involved in a custody battle over their 6-year-old daughter, Ikuko (Rio Kanno). Due to Ikukos age, Yoshimi is at an advantage despite her husbands best efforts, but she needs to stabilize her life, and in order to do so, shes moved into a new apartment even though it seems like a less than ideal place. Initially, things seem to be okay until Yoshimi gets dogged by hallucinations of a young girl in a yellow raincoat with her red lunch bag which may have a connection to her past. Also, the ceiling of the apartment starts to drip through the ever widening stain. For long stretches, Dark Water feels like a minimalist relationship drama so many genre fans are bound to be disappointed. It certainly doesnt help that this film, which was released to much success in Japan 3-years-ago, has taken this long to reach our shores. The problem being that this material has mutated into so many shapes that for many itll be hard to tell between the original and a copy. Alls not lost though. Nakata stages a couple of remarkable sequences in the final third of the film including one in an apartment besieged by water. Production values are top notch, but the film couldve benefited from a better leading performer. Ultimately, Nakata also falters by revealing someone who was making more of an impression otherwise.

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:35 pm

Re: Dark Water.

Good review arsaib4, I felt the original was let down by too much exposure to poor fx during the lift sequence towards the end although I can't say I had a problem with any of the performances, it is quite a few notches above the remake which may as well signpost everything as it treats its audience as simpletons.

I have and will post my comments on the remake as soon as our PC has been sorted out (nasty little viral problem at the moment).

Cheers Trev.

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Jul 30, 2005 2:44 pm

Thanks, Trev. I was afraid that maybe I underrated the film but it sounds like you've also noticed a few flaws. Looking forward to your review.

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Sat Aug 27, 2005 7:08 am

Tky densetsu: ugomeku machi no kyki (2004) Tokyo Psycho

Directed by Ataru Oikawa

Main cast - Seiji Chihara, Sachiko Kokubu

This film is supposedly based on a true case. A woman starts receiving strange letters, not so much threatening in their content but by the fact that theyre little bits held together by piano wire. At a school reunion she is reminded about strange circumstances that tie in with the letters, disturbing things happen to her friends until the nut who sent the initial letter reveals himself.

I thought Id seen quite a few bad films, whether bad acting, plot, pacing, direction, editing, lighting, script, camerawork, sound, whatever. This film fails in every category, believe me it is a horror, not just for the weak story but for everything to do with the film, definitely one of the worst films I have ever seen!


And remember, because I will, this is from the director of Tomie.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15

Re: Japanese Journals Horror & Ghost Stories

Postby trevor826 » Sat Dec 03, 2005 11:15 pm

Jisatsu Manyuaru (2003) The Suicide Manual

Directed by Osamu Fukutani

Starring Kenji Mizuhashi, Chisato Morishita

This is an ultra low budget film thats a variation on the Sixth Sense. Thats pretty much it except!

Suicide, what a topic of discussion especially when talking about Asian countries and Japan in particular. The basis of this film is an actual book that can be bought legitimately in Japan, The Complete Suicide Manual; this book gives the pros and cons of various types of suicide and even suggests good places to do it. I honestly couldnt imagine this book would be published in many if any other countries and shows the vast cultural difference between our various societies.

The majority of the film goes through this manuals ideas, hanging, carbon monoxide poisoning, jumping from heights (or one that seems to be prevalent in Japan) in front of trains plus many other methods. It also illustrates the growing culture of websites and groups associated with suicide; these are far scarier than the actual story and in a way quite depressing. The film itself is of quite a poor quality being filmed on video, little use has been made of lighting or any other method to enhance the picture and it appears quite flat.

The acting is okay at best and hammy at worst but this film is important to attain some understanding of the suicide culture in Asia. Since the financial crash in the late nineties, the suicide rate has increased dramatically, in 2003 alone there were 34, 427 confirmed deaths by suicide in Japan, an unbelievable figure!

Back to the film itself, it is a barely adequate ghost story that touches on a subject that is devastating, the fact that it uses The Complete Suicide Manual as its basis and contains disturbing images, some deeply disturbing just makes me wonder what the directors intentions were, exploitation or exploration?

If the subject upsets you then avoid this film, it does give an insight into something most of us will never (luckily) contemplate or understand but what could have been interesting ends up being just another albeit fairly low quality horror film.

Cheers Trev

For a contemplative look at the after effects of suicide I would recommend Kore'eda's "Maborosi" or "Distance" which broaches the aftermath of group suicide.

BBFC rated 18 (for obvious reasons).

R2 Pal dvd available from Screen Entertainment.


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